First human trials with CRISPR commence in the US
The very first human trials with CRISPR have commenced in the US to treat cancer. The two patients, who are undergoing treatment with CRISPR, are currently diagnosed with two different types of cancer— one has myeloma, cancer that affects the white blood cells, and the other has sarcoma, which affects tissues. The process involves removing immune system cells from patients, genetically modifying them, and then putting them back into the body. More on NPR.
Meticulously mapped 3D laser map of Notre Dame
As the famous French cathedral burned, details came to light about a precision mapping of the entire structure that was done with laser scanners in 2015. Art historian Andrew Tallon collected a mind-blowing 1 billion points of data and panoramic photos to match locations, creating a photorealistic 3D depiction of the inside of the cathedral with a precision of 5mm. More on Forbes.
Volcanoes caused the world’s largest mass extinction in history
New evidence has come to light that the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, commonly known as the Great Dying, was caused due to volcanism. The P-Tr event occurred 252 million years ago, and over 96 per cent of all marine species and 70 per cent of all terrestrial species went extinct. Life took 10 million years to simply recover from this mass extinction. Several causes have been laid out for this event including volcanism, loss of oxygen, climate change, and meteor impacts. More details here.
Floating plastic on the ocean can now be seen from space
Plastic is now in every corner of our planet, from Mount Everest to the Marianas Trench. As awareness spreads about single-use plastic, the more we see the repercussions of the plastic we’ve dumped into the oceans. High-resolution satellite imagery shows that islands of floating plastic can be seen from space off the coast of several countries, especially Scotland and Canada. Scientists presented these images at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.
DNA taken from Stonehenge sites reveal the origin of builders
Researchers in the UK compared the DNA extracted from the site of the Stonehenge to other humans who lived in Britain at the time. They found that the Neolithic inhabitants of the country were descendants of populations of Anatolia (now Turkey) and introduced farming to Europe. Another group migrated from Iberia (now Spain and France) and then the tradition of building large structures with stone started. Reconstructions of these Neolithic people are now present in the Natural History Museum in Britain. More on BBC.